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  • A review of the Model Defamation Provisions was undertaken between 2019 and mid-2020.
  • The review examined the role and scope of liability of internet intermediaries for the publication of third-party content following the High Court decision in Voller.
  • The review also considered the defences to defamation including absolute privilege in defamation proceedings.
  • Based upon the stakeholder feedback received, draft changes were introduced to the Model Defamation Amendment Provisions. Reforms agreed to include introduction of a public interest defence, introduction of a serious harm threshold and a single publication rule.

Defamation is a tort which is regulated by state legislation. The Model Defamation Provisions were endorsed in 2005 and each state and territory has passed legislation to implement the model provisions. Despite implementation by states and territories, a national approach to reform is crucial.

There are three elements to defamation. The first element is the material must be published to at least one person other than the person who is defamed and the ‘publishing’ can be oral. The second element is the person being defamed must be identifiable. And thirdly, the communication must be considered defamatory by an ordinary or reasonable person resulting in the defamed person being shamed, avoided, or shunned and it has caused damage to their personal or professional reputation so that it suggests a lack of judgment, skill, knowledge or capacity in their profession.

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